California Redistricting: What to Know About the Final Maps

California voters have the brand new districts they’ll use to elect their members of Congress and state legislators, after the state’s independent redistricting commission voted unanimously Monday night to approve its final maps.

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These districts take effect with the June 2022 primaries and continue for the next decade. Redistricting happens once every 10 years, after every census, to ensure that each district has the same amount of people. It’s the second time that California’s redrawing is being done by a 14-member independent commission. 

But it hasn’t been easy, or without contention.

In addition to balancing population numbers, the commission must comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, ensuring that no minority group’s vote is drowned out. And to create fair maps, the commission didn’t consider current district lines and isn’t supposed to weigh partisan politics. In some cases, it puts incumbents into the same district, or forces others to appeal to new voters to be re-elected.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Particularly on the congressional level, that could help shift the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans. In the U.S. House, three California Democrats are among the 23 Democrats nationally who have already opted not to run for re-election in 2022. Combined with redistricting done by Republican-led legislatures in other states, that could tip the House in favor of the GOP

Some California Democrats have blasted the “unilateral disarmament” of their power, though an initial analysis by the Cook Political Report says the new congressional map helps Democrats

The commission’s deliberations have been different from the last redistricting, in 2011, in large measure due to advances in technology, plus social media, particularly Twitter.

In 2021, it is far easier for advocacy groups and others to submit their own maps – and respond to mapping decisions in real time. As they did live line-drawing, commissioners referenced these maps, along with the feedback they were getting.

The commission was under the pressure of a court-ordered deadline to submit the maps to the secretary of state by Dec. 27 despite a nearly six-month delay in the release of census data. In the last few weeks, the panel held a number of marathon sessions late into the night to hear public comment and try to incorporate competing testimony into the maps. 

Commission chairperson Alicia Fernández acknowledged that there were constraints and disagreements along the way, but said she was proud of the commission’s work given the rules they were under.

“There was robust discussion in terms of how these maps should be drawn. We know that not everyone will be happy, but I feel that they are fair maps for Californians,” she told CalMatters.

California Common Cause — which pushed voters to create the independent panel — also defended the commission: “While the process was at times messy, it was an exercise in democracy done in public,” with 150 meetings and 30,000 pieces of public input.

Now, the maps must sit for three days for public input, though no further changes are permitted, said Fredy Ceja, communications director for the commission. In the meantime, the commission will complete its final report to deliver to the secretary of state.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

Comments

  1. Robin Itzler says

    My guess is that the powers-that-be sat around discussing, “How can we best change these districts to help Democrats win?”

    • Deborah Pauly says

      …and I would hold forth that incumbents on both sides of the isle played “let’s make a deal” in the back room to assure their continued positions of power.

  2. They are the same team!! And it’s not a Patriotic Team. They care about themselves only! Prove me wrong! Merry Christmas.

  3. Daniel Wright says

    The commission is not suppose to drown out minorities,yet the Cook political report says Ca. redistricting favors Democrats. In Ca. the smallest minority are Republicans. What a crock.

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